Bennet Files Amendment for Bridge to Tax Reform

Trade groups are calling for national support of the Bennet Amendment for Bridge to Tax Reform. U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has filed an amendment to the annual budget resolution being considered this week by the Senate that would make room for renewable and efficiency tax credits. The amendment specifies “a fund for “creating clean energy jobs, including extending over a reasonable period of time, as a bridge to tax reform, expired and expiring tax credits for renewable energy production and investment.”

The renewable tBennet Tax Reform Amendment Trade Group Supportersrade groups endorsed the amendment in a letter:

Dear Senator:

The U.S. Senate begins debate this week on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution. Senator Michael Bennet will be offering an amendment (#715) which expresses support for the extension of expired and expiring federal tax credits for renewable energy production and investment as the bridge to tax reform. On behalf of the thousands of American companies and over 500,000 Americans working in the renewable energy sector, we strongly encourage you to support the Bennet Amendment.

Over the past five years, nearly 44% of all new domestic power generation capacity has come from renewable energy resources, including more than 56% of all new power generation capacity in 2014 – surpassing all other energy sources. The investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) have been the primary federal policy drivers for this growth, spurring private sector investment, creating jobs, and driving down costs significantly, making renewable and clean technologies more cost competitive.

The clean energy sector has the potential to be one of the greatest engines of middle class job growth in the 21st century, while providing our nation with secure sources of clean and renewable domestic energy. To realize that objective, however, we must have a supportive and certain tax policy environment.

Again, on behalf of our thousands of member companies and more than half a million Americans working in our industries, we ask you to send an unambiguous signal of support for clean and renewable energy. Please vote for the Bennet Amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution in support of continuing tax incentives for clean and renewable domestic energy sources.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Solar Energy Industries Association, American Wind Energy Association, Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, Geothermal Energy Association, American Biogas Council, Energy Recovery Council, National Hydropower Association, Biomass Power Association, Distributed Wind Energy Association and Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/European Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Officer Thomas Becker is stepping down as the head of the association for personal reasons after two years of service Following his appointment in December 2012, Mr. Becker outlined his vision for an industry group that placed renewed emphasis on how the wind energy sector could contribute to jobs, exports and green growth. EWEA’s Deputy CEO Malgosia Bartosik will lead the association and assume the responsibilities of the CEO during this transitional period.
  • Dyadic International, Inc. has announced today the appointment of Jack Kaye to the Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. Mr. Kaye will serve on the audit and compensation committees. With the addition of Mr. Kaye, there will be seven members on the Dyadic Board.
  • Developing Swaziland’s vast renewable energy resources would provide substantial socio-economic benefits for its population, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report estimates that bagasse could meet half of all domestic electricity demand while solar power could contribute substantially to the remaining demand. More than 76 per cent of Swaziland’s current electricity supply comes from imports, predominantly from South Africa. Electricity import tariffs in Swaziland doubled between 2009 and 2012 and are expected to continue this upward trend.
  • Greenergy, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of waste based biodiesel, has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) sustainability certification for the production of biodiesel from used cooking oil at its facilities in Immingham and North Cave. RSB is recognized by NGOs as the ” most comprehensive and ambitious” biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world. RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

ICM Celebrates 20 Years of Ethanol Innovations

icm_anniversary_logo_01Kansas-based ICM, Inc. is celebrating 20 years of innovating in the ethanol and renewable fuels industry. The company credits the passion of its people for its longevity and its ability to design more than 100 ethanol plants.

“I think 20 Years of Innovation is an appropriate way to describe the life of the company,” says ICM President Chris Mitchell. “It started out as a small group of people who had to come together and figure out what they were going to do when they started the business. Over the years, it transformed into a larger family of people who’ve had to come together and figure out how to best meet the needs of an evolving industry.”

Some of these needs have led to the development of key innovations such as improved dryers, greenfield plants, Corn Oil Separation, Selective Milling Technology™, Fiber Separation Technology™, and Gen 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology™.

Reflecting on the company’s history, ICM CEO Dave Vander Griend says, “There was kind of a defining moment in time when a lot of things — like policy, public perception, and technology — all came together to help ethanol find its place. I feel fortunate to have been there, to have the background I had at the time, and to be surrounded by a good group of people and industry partners who could rally together and really grab ahold of the thing and help it grow.”

You can learn more about ICM on the company’s 20th anniversary web page.

EPA, Justice Settle with Utah RIN Violator

epa-150The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement with a Utah-based company that was alleged to have generated more than 7.2 million invalid renewable fuel credits worth more than $2 million. This news release from the EPA says Washakie Renewable Energy, LLC generated the Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, from the company’s Plymouth, Utah facility in 2010.

During that time, however, Washakie did not produce any biodiesel at the Plymouth facility. The biodiesel associated with the 7.2 million RINs would have accounted for a reduction of emissions equivalent to more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Washakie has purchased and retired from the market an equivalent number of RINs, which achieved this reduction of emissions.

Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs for each gallon of renewable fuel in the U.S. market that meets greenhouse gas emissions reduction standards established under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Washakie will pay a $3 million penalty under the settlement, which was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“This case is another example of EPA’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure producers are supporting their claims with production of actual renewable fuels is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change.”

“The defendant made quite a profit by failing to adhere to the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Program regulations,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The penalty here sends the message that renewable fuel producers will be held accountable for meeting all legal requirements. The Department of Justice remains committed to taking the profit out of illegal activity.”

The EPA says this is the first case under the second Renewable Fuels Standards in which, as a part of a settlement, EPA secured the replacement of invalid RINs by the producer of those RINs. That takes the burden off the buyers of the RINs who bought them to meet EPA compliance issues.

Biodiesel Imports Drop 36% in 2014

The amount of biodiesel and renewable diesel being imported into the U.S. dropped 36 percent in 2014 compared to the record-level year in 2013. This article from the Energy Information Administration says uncertainty about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and no late-year influx of volumes from Argentina were two main factors in this decline.
2014biodieselimports1
The strongest drivers of the resurgence in U.S. biomass-based diesel demand since 2012 have been increasing RFS targets and the on-again, off-again biodiesel tax credit. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are valuable because they qualify for the two major renewable fuel programs in the United States: the RFS applied at the national level, and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Biomass-based diesel fuels have additional advantages over other renewable fuels because of their relatively high energy content and low carbon intensity, which allow them to qualify for higher credit values in both renewable fuel programs.

While the RFS is meant to encourage the production and consumption of renewable fuels, obligations for 2014 still have not been finalized and those for 2015 have not yet been proposed. The initial proposal for the 2014 RFS program year, released in November 2013, stated that the 2014 biomass-based diesel obligation would remain unchanged from its 2013 value at 1.28 billion gallons, while the advanced biofuels obligation would be reduced to 2.2 billion gallons, down from 2.75 billion gallons in 2013. The uncertainty and proposed lower target levels have made it difficult for refiners to comply with the RFS recently, but the flexibility and value of biomass-based diesel volumes towards all obligation levels make it a strong driver of biodiesel consumption as long as the RFS is still active.

Two other factors help explain lower biomass-based diesel imports in 2014. In late 2013, there was a surge of biodiesel imports from Argentina as a result of European Union (EU) antidumping duties placed on Argentine biodiesel. This action by the EU temporarily diverted large volumes of Argentine biomass-based diesel that were previously destined to be exported to Europe, Argentina’s largest biodiesel export market, to the United States. U.S. imports of biodiesel from Argentina fell by 57% from 2013 to 52 million gallons in 2014.

The EIA also cited the end of the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit at the end of 2013, despite the retroactive reinstatement at the end of 2014, as another factor in the decline.

Nearly half of the biodiesel imports coming into the U.S. come from Canada.

Sens Wyden, Risch Intro Geothermal Energy Bill

Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, have introduced legislation to encourage geothermal energy production on public lands. Coined the Geothermal Production Expansion Act, the bill would prevent speculative bidders from driving up the price of leases for developers seeking to use the land for geothermal projects. The bill streamlines the federal geothermal leasing program by allowing for the non-competitive leasing of a limited amount of federal land at fair market value to spur the expansion of geothermal energy on already identified “hot spots”. The bill passed the Senate last year. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also cosponsored the legislation.

Sens Risch and WydenGeothermal projects are managed on Federal lands by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and it is estimated that 250 million acres contain geothermal power potential. Currently, geothermal energy projects that are producing geothermal power under the BLM’s management make up about half of the total geothermal generating capacity in the U.S.

“Geysers, volcanoes and hot springs – like Oregon’s own Neal Hot Springs – are reservoirs of the Earth’s enormous clean energy potential,” Wyden said. “By making these “hot spots” available to only serious developers, this bill protects taxpayer dollars and prevents speculators from holding hostage the enormous possibilities of geothermal energy.”

Risch added, “Reliable and lower-cost energy is the backbone of any successful economy and must be expanded to meet future needs. In Idaho and much of the west, geothermal energy is a largely untapped source of clean energy. This bill encourages its development and expansion by removing a layer of red tape that holds up production at geothermal facilities.”

Oregon and Idaho have the combined potential to produce at least 1,400 MW from geothermal resources – enough energy to power more than a million homes. U.S. Geothermal, Inc. operates geothermal power projects in both states.

“We thank Senators Wyden and Risch for their continued strong support of the geothermal industry with their introduction of the Geothermal Production Expansion Act,” said Doug Glaspey, President and COO of U.S. Geothermal, Inc. “This is an important piece that improves the federal leasing system and will help geothermal developers move projects toward production.”

Solar Goes to Space

Solar has gone to space. SolAero Technologies has announced that 32 of its SolAero solar panels populated with high-efficiency triple-junction ZTJ solar cells are powering the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission spacecraft that launched successfully on March 12, 2015 aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SolAero Solor Panels on MMS spacecraftThe MMS will study magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe when magnetic fields connect and disconnect explosively, releasing energy and accelerating particles up to nearly the speed of light. Unlike previous missions that have observed only evidence of magnetic reconnection events, MMS has sufficient resolution to observe and measure reconnection events as they occur. While MMS will fly through reconnection regions in less than a second, key sensors on each spacecraft are able to capture measurements 100 times faster than any previous mission. In addition, MMS consists of four identical observatories, which together will provide the first ever three-dimensional view of magnetic reconnection.

SolAreo said this mission is unprecedented. Building four spacecraft at the same time – something that had never before been done at Goddard – required a unique set of engineering, management and production skills. In addition, SolAero said they provided solar panels for each spacecraft designed and built at the highest efficiency and to the highest standards necessary for a successful mission.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Solectria – A Yaskawa Company, has announced the introduction of its Rapid Shutdown (RSD) Combiner for single-phase inverters. This RSD Combiner option offers a complete solution to NEC 2014, Article 690.12 requiring rooftop installations to de-energize conductors outside of a 10 foot boundary from the array.
  • Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Sprawl,” written for the New Climate Economy by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, finds that urban sprawl costs the American economy more than US$1 trillion annually, according to a new study by the New Climate Economy. These costs include greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs. In addition, all residents and businesses, regardless of where they are located, bear an extra $400 billion in external costs. Correcting this problem provides an opportunity to increase economic productivity, improve public health and protect the environment.
  • Sungevity, Inc. has announced that it has expanded its solar solutions to the commercial market, a new channel for the company, in partnership with Sol Systems. Sungevity will focus on the underserved small business sector consisting of systems that are sized between 50 – 300KW. Sungevity has serviced the residential market since selling its first solar system in 2008 and has a footprint in 12 U.S. states; Washington, D.C.; the Netherlands and Australia.
  • Elio Motors has announced it has launched a 506(c) investment option that will allow accredited investors the opportunity to buy into the revolutionary transportation start-up for as little as $15,000. The funds will be used to help the company launch an enclosed three-wheeled vehicle that is expected to sell for $6,800, and get up to 84 MPG. The company’s targeted production date is the first half of 2016.

MIT Climate CoLab Seeks World Changing Ideas

Earth Day is April 22, 2015 but climate change is on many minds year round. This week Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab announced twenty-two contests that seek high-impact ideas on how to tackle climate change. A project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the Climate CoLab is attempting to harness the knowledge and expertise of thousands of experts and non-experts across the world to help solve this issue. The Climate CoLab has a rapidly growing community of over 30,000 members from across the world. Anyone is welcome to join the platform to submit their own ideas, or comment on and show support for other proposals on the site.

Climate CoLab“As systems like Linux and Wikipedia have shown, people from around the world—connected by the Internet—can work together to solve complex problems in very new ways,” said MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab project. “In the Climate CoLab, we’re applying this approach to one of the world’s most difficult problems—climate change.”

The contests cover a broad set of sub-problems that lie at the heart of the climate change challenge including: decarbonizing energy supply, shifting public attitudes and behavior, adapting to climate change, geoengineering, transportation, waste management, reducing consumption, and others.

The popular U.S. Carbon Price contest is returning this year, which seeks innovative policy and political mobilization strategies on how to implement a carbon price in the United States. Serving as Advisors for this contest are Former U.S. Secretary of State, George P. Shultz; former U.S. Representative (R-SC) and current Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, Bob Inglis; and, former U.S. Representative (D-IN) and current President of Resources for the Future, Phil Sharp. Continue reading

Proposed Oregon Biomass Plant Seeks Energy Buyer

oregonflagA proposed biomass plant in Oregon is getting closer to getting off the ground, if it can just find a buyer for the energy it produces. This article from The Columbian says the city of La Pine could get a wood-burning power plant.

“It’s just been on hold due to market conditions,” said Rob Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co. “And we plan on holding out until we are able to market and sell power.”

The company must find an energy buyer to make the planned plant economically viable, said Rick Allen, La Pine city manager.

“They need to find a power company that wants to buy their power,” he said. “That’s really the issue.”

The $75 million, 25-megawatt biomass plant would produce enough electricity to power about 19,000 homes, Broberg said. The plant would burn wood — limbs and other scrap left over after logging, debris from thinning projects and urban waste — to heat water, create steam and turn a turbine.

Biogreen has been trying to build a biomass plant in the forest-surrounded city of La Pine for more than five years.

NY Considers State Biodiesel Heating Oil Mandate

englebrightA measure before the New York state legislature would require biodiesel to be mixed into every gallon of heating oil sold in the state. This article from The Legislative Gazette says the bill would set a 2 percent mandate and start no later than July 1, 2016 if it is passed.

Bill A.6070 is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D- Setauket, in the Assembly and has the support of environmental groups, consumer groups, labor unions and farmers.

“Clean air is really a birthright for New Yorkers and this will help underwrite that premise,” Englebright said. “We think it is part of a whole series of measures that we’re going to have to take to clean up our environment in the state.”

Kevin Rooney, CEO of the Oil Heating Institute of Long Island, supports the use of biodiesel because it provides many benefits.

“The use of biofuels blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil provides unquestioned energy efficiency, it provides environmental benefits, it increases or enhances public health benefits at no cost whatsoever to the end-use consumer, the home owner,” Rooney said.

The Ways and Means Committee is currently considering the bill.

Hawaii Trans Director Commits to 20% Biodiesel

pacificbiodieselHawaii’s head of its state transportation department is committing his agency to using a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, B20. This article from Big Island Now says State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami made the remarks as he, Governor David Ige and Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui toured Pacific Biodiesel’s refinery this week during Biodiesel Day.

“We are committed to convert all of our diesel fuel equipment and vehicles to B20. This fuel is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. We support initiatives to buy local and promote the use of clean energy fuels,” Fuchigami said.

During the visit, Gov. Ige emphasized the state’s serious commitment to food security and energy sustainability. He commended Pacific Biodiesel for being a global pioneer in the field of biofuels and for company president Robert King’s vision to position Hawai’i to become an energy independent and self-sustainable state.

The City & County of Honolulu have been using B20 for more than a decade.

Solar Impulse 2 Takes to the Skies

Solar Impulse 2 has set off on a 35,000-kilometer journey around the world, powered only by solar energy. Schindler, a leading global elevator and escalator provider, is one of the project’s four main partners and welcomed the aircraft as it stops over at the Mandalay International Airport in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The Solar Impulse 2 is a single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber, with a 72 meter wingspan – larger than that of the Boeing 747 – weighting just 2,300 kg. The 17,248 solar Solar Impulse 2 eighteenth flightcells built into the wing supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries, weighing 633 kg, that allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.

The aircraft took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015 and will stop at 12 locations. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 will fly across the USA stopping in three locations –Phoenix, a location in the Midwest and New York City at JFK. After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi. With the plane traveling at a maximum speed of 90 to 140 km/h, depending on the flying altitude, the journey will take five months to complete, including 25 days of flight time.

Schindler, which has been operating in Myanmar since 1999, is proud to participate in the project. “This is a historic moment and we are delighted to be part of a team that shares Solar Impulse takes-off from Varanasi to Mandalaythe same pioneering spirit and passion for engineering excellence, with the common objective to move people safely while using less energy,” said Jujudhan Jena, Chief Executive of Jardine Schindler Group.

Solar Impulse’s founders have welcome Schindler’s participation as an important illustration of how forward-looking companies are approaching sustainable development and seeing the industrial potential of using clean technology and renewable energy.

“Our partnership with Solar Impulse exemplifies our longstanding dedication to invest in clean technologies for sustainable mobility,” added Jena. “Just like those of the Solar Impulse team, the intensive efforts made by our R&D teams over the years have given birth to ground-breaking solutions that have redefined industry standards.”

Survey: Electric Grid 70% Renewable by 2050

According to a new survey from DNV GL, there is a global consensus that a renewables based electricity system can be achieved. More than 1,600 energy sector participants representing more than 70 countries participated in a study addressing three key Beyond Integrationquestions on how to move forward the integration of renewables into the global electricity grids of the future. Eight out of 10 respondents believe that the electricity system can be 70 percent renewable by 2050 while nearly half of the respondents believe this can be achieved in the next 15 years. The culmination of the study was published in the report, “Beyond Integration: Three dynamics reshaping renewables and the grid“.

Key questions asked included posing a scenario in which renewables account for 70 percent of power sector generation. How likely did they feel this was to come about? What time frame might they assign to such a scenario? To whom would the scenario pose challenges? To whom might it offer opportunities?

The analysis sheds light on three dynamics reshaping renewables and the grid for the energy transition: convergence of metrics, rebalancing of rules and expansion of horizons.

David Walker, CEO DNV GL-Energy, said of the report, “DNV GL’s analysis of these findings concludes that the solution for a high renewables future demands a dramatic change in the industry’s approach to the integration of new technology. We need to adopt more collaborative approaches and go beyond old metrics, beyond old rules and beyond old silos. A shift away from a paradigm in which renewables are considered a nuisance to be accommodated to one in which the true potential of renewables in balancing and securing grids is unlocked. The debate needs to move ‘beyond integration’. DNV GL is taking the broader view and opening that discussion.”

Report findings are organised around three dynamics, which DNV GL sees reshaping not just electricity, but the entire energy sector:

  1. Convergence – New economic metrics must converge the needs of policymakers and system operators. The survey indicates that policymakers and system operators place diverging demands on renewable developers. Qualitative data stress that securing political will depends on affordability, while in a high renewables future developers must also engage with the increasing system operation challenges.
  2. Rebalancing – New rules are needed to rebalance the opportunities and challenges for developers and system operators. Developers, independent power producers and original equipment manufacturers are relishing the opportunities brought about by the shift to a high renewables system, while system operators and utilities identify themselves as being challenged by the transition.
  3. Expansion – New entrepreneurial solutions will expand the electricity business into a true ‘internet of energy’. Current high interest in energy storage, which 66 percent of respondents select as a top 3 lever for a high renewables future, is an example of the increasingly blurry lines between power, transport and heat. Meanwhile, respondents’ emphasis on smart grids underscores the role for IT in helping to manage the variability of renewables. The electricity sector is becoming more interconnected with the wider energy system, and also with newer sectors such as IT.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Aria Energy has announced the beginning of commercial operations and renewable energy production at Sarasota County’s Central County Solid Waste Disposal Complex located in Nokomis, Florida. The project is a 4.8 MW landfill gas-to-energy facility that produces renewable energy by capturing and processing the methane gas generated at the landfill through organic decomposition. Aria Energy designed, built, owns and operates the facility, and sells the electricity to JEA under a power purchase agreement.
  • Solar Power, Inc. has announced its partnership with Aqua Clean Energy (ACE) for the co-development of floating PV projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Under the terms of the agreement, ACE and SPI will co-develop an identified pipeline of floating PV projects in the licensed territories with an estimated combined size of over 50 MW by establishing a joint venture holding company, Aqua Clean Energy Fund, LLC.
  • Sunrun has announced that Bob Komin has joined the company as chief financial officer (CFO). Komin is responsible for the overall finance, accounting, and structured finance activity of the company. He assumed his new role March 9 replacing Anne Brennan, and will work closely with her to transition activities over the next few weeks.
  • OneRoof Energy, Inc., wholly owned subsidiary of OneRoof Energy Group, Inc., has announced that it has closed the financing agreement with Spindrift Equities, LLC, one of OneRoof Energy’s existing investors. As announced on March 13, 2015, the US$2.0 million represents a portion of the US$15.0 million of capital previously announced on November 24, 2014 from Black Coral Capital, LLC and other investors in the form of secured convertible promissory notes.